Taipei, July 5 (CNA) As Taiwan is considering resuming the import of Vietnamese workers, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said it will work out measures to prevent foreign workers from absconding, including imposing more stringent controls by exporting countries, raising brokerage fees and increasing employers' levies.
Due to the serious problem of runaway workers and unreasonably high brokerage fees, Taiwan imposed a ban on Vietnamese fishermen in May 2004 and froze imports of Vietnamese caregivers and domestic workers in January 2005. It also suspended issuing permits to new Vietnamese labor brokers.
However, authorities from Taiwan and Vietnam agreed during a meeting at the end of April to lift the decade-old ban on Vietnamese domestic workers, caregivers and fishing workers coming to Taiwan in July at the earliest.
To cope with the high absconding rate, more stringent controls will be required by the exporting country, according to the ministry.
The runaway ratio has fallen from a high of 10.16 percent in 2004 to 5.77 percent last year after the Vietnamese government imposed punitive measures on runaway workers in Taiwan.
The Vietnamese government imposed a fine of NT$150,000 (US$4,856), a two- to five-year ban on taking up overseas work on migrant workers who leave their positions without permission.
In addition, Vietnam has also reduced the total expenses for labor exports to Taiwan, including the brokerage fees, from US$5,000 per worker in 2004 to US$4,000 per worker in 2014, said Liu Chug-chun (劉佳鈞), the head of the Workforce Development Agency under Taiwan's MOL.
Cutting the brokerage fees could indirectly boost the income of Vietnamese laborers who work in Taiwan and diminish their motivation for running away, according to Liu.
The ministry is also considering to impose heavier levies on employers.
Taiwan's revised Employment Service Act raises fines on employers who hire unauthorized foreign workers from NT$90,000 to between NT$150,000 and NT$750,000. Two violations within five years can lead to a three-year prison term plus a fine of up to NT$1.2 million.
In related news, Indonesia will stop sending domestic workers to Taiwan beginning in 2017 due mainly to the "exorbitant" brokerage fee charged in Taiwan.
According to statistics, an Indonesian worker arriving in Taiwan has to pay brokers about NT$60,000 in related expenses, one of the highest in the world, second only to the Middle East.